Photo ©C. D'Aliasi

The picturesque Tufa area in Tuscany

Take a look at these fascinating Etruscan hamlets

The Tufa area is located in the southeastern part of the Grosseto province and includes the villages of Pitigliano and Sorano, as well as part of the municipality of Castell'Azzara. The area is bordered by Monte Amiata to the north, by Lazio to the east and south, and by the hills of Albegna and Fiora to the west. The area, mainly hilly, is known for striking rock settlements, villages and medieval fortifications which arose near the major centres of the Etruscan-Roman period. Enjoy the Tufa area of Tuscany using this itinerary.

Pitigliano

Let’s start from Pitigliano, perhaps the most famous village in the Tufa area. Before you even reach the village, you can easily see Pitigliano’s beauty, as it’s perched on a volcanic tufa ridge. We recommend that you shoot a lot of photos of the village from the other side of the street as you approach it: it’s simply stunning! The picturesque old town is known as “little Jerusalem,” due to the historical presence of a Jewish community, well-integrated into the village, which has its own synagogue. The Jewish quarter is one of the town highlights, as well as the tiny centre and the many Etruscan sites in the surrounding area. The town itself is small enough to walk around easily: before starting your visit you can pass by the tourist information office on Via Roma, just off the main square. Then you can visit Palazzo and Fortress Orsini, the Cathedral of Saints Peter and Paul, the 16th century Aqueduct, the church of San Rocco and maybe even take a tour of the Vie Cave. Read more in this post: "A day trip to Pitigliano in the heart of Maremma."
Pitigliano [Photo Credits: Bernward Harz]
Pitigliano [Photo Credits: Bernward Harz]

Sorano

Another famous village in the Tufa area is Sorano, built on a high rock of tufa a few kilometres from Pitigliano. Sorano is defined the “Matera of Tuscany” for its peculiar look: many urban buildings are dug into the tufa. Like Pitigliano, Sorano has Etruscan origins, which we understand from the remarkable discoveries of ancient settlements and necropolises. Sorano also preserves a Jewish Ghetto, but the Jewish community abandoned the village in the early twentieth century. Here you can visit the Collegiate Church of St. Niccolò, the ancient palace of counts Orsini and their Fortress, the defensive outpost of Masso Leopoldino and the unique archaeological park “Città del Tufo” (Tufa city). Read more here: "Sorano, a medieval hill town dug into the tufa."
Sorano [Photo Credits: ebiggs vancouver]
Sorano [Photo Credits: ebiggs vancouver]

Sovana

Sovana is part of the municipality of Sorano and is known as an important Etruscan, medieval and Renaissance village, as well as an episcopal see. The actual historical centre developed during the Middle Ages near an existing Etruscan necropolis, ruled by the Aldobrandeschi family, who built a castle around the year 1000. Sovana boasts one of the quaintest squares in Italy and you can also visit the Cathedral of Saints Peter and Paul, dating from the tenth century; the Church of Santa Maria Maggiore, located in Piazza del Pretorio, believed to date back to the twelfth century; the Church of San Mamiliano, also in Piazza del Pretorio, as well as the Palace of the Archive. You can also see the Sovana Walls and the Aldobrandechi Fortress.
Sovana, Maremma area [Photo Credits: Andrea Moroni]
Sovana, Maremma area [Photo Credits: Andrea Moroni]

Castell'Ottieri

Part of the municipality of Sorano and located at 10 kilometres, Castell'Ottieri has medieval origins. You can visit St. Bartholomew's Church, built in the late sixteenth century and housing interesting artworks; the Church of Santa Maria, built in the seventeenth century; and the Fortress of Ottieri, built during the Renaissance. Don’t forget to visit another part of Sorano, San Giovanni delle Contee. The historic centre features many tufa buildings. Montebuono is also part of Sorano and the Tufa Area.
Castell'Ottieri [Photo Credits: Vinatieri Matteo]
Castell'Ottieri [Photo Credits: Vinatieri Matteo]

Castell'Azzara

Castell'Azzara is a village located about 50 kilometres east of Grosseto, occupying the slopes of the Monte Amiata. Among the main sights are the Rocca Aldobrandesca (today you can only see the palace and the watchtower), the Church of San Nicola, the Church of Madonna del Rosario and the Villa Sforzesca, built in the late 16th century. Since 2008, two galleries of the Cornacchino mine have been open to visitors. The tunnels are a few hundred meters long and you’ll need wear proper equipment and be led by an experienced guide. Read more about Monte Amiata area.
Castell'Azzara - Credit: XLtour
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